Online News – End of the Road For Free News Online?

As outlined by a recent study, we’re not overly impressed with Rupert Murdoch’s plans to charge for use of his on theĀ Correct Score web news sites. Of 2, 000 people asked if they would likely ever pay for online news, 9 out of 10 explained ‘No! ‘. Does that mean that Murdoch’s decision for you to charge users to access his news sites is unreasonable?

I wouldn’t pay for news, either, unless…

If I were being asked ‘would you ever pay for online news? ‘, I would probably say ‘no’, too. After all, in an era when we can usually read about major events on Twitter ahead of any of the news channels report them, why would many of us ever want pay for access to their content?

However , I might, and often do, pay for quality and ‘luxury’ news. I had never pay a penny for one of the shrinking number of cost-free newspapers handed out on my way to work in a morning, but Outlined on our site pay for a Sunday broadsheet with all its extras along with trimmings (even though the chances of me actually reading some pages are extremely small).

I have also been known to sign up to some sort of paid members’ area on the website of a certain football staff (which shall remain nameless) to gain access to extra content normally on the main website: video interviews and press meetings, highlights of reserve and youth team matches, are living radio commentary on match days.

Would I shell out to read The Sun online? No . There are usually only about 2 paragraphs in each image-dominated article anyway. It only costs a few pennies to buy the real thing so there wouldn’t be much price in using its site. The Times? Maybe, but only if all the quality news outlets starting charging, otherwise I’d only go for the free one.

Using a Credit Card for a 20p Write-up?

I’m not sure how much Mr Murdoch wants to charge the users to read an article, but I’m guessing there is going to be some sort of account that needs setting up. I certainly couldn’t always be bothered to get my wallet out every time I wanted to study something and I would be very hesitant to commit to following.

On the other hand, if they had a similar system to iTunes, whereby you only enter your password to gain access to a paid article plus your card is billed accordingly, that might make a bit more impression. But , if I had to do that for every major news company, it would become very tiresome.

Ultimately, they could be shooting by themselves in the foot to some extent. If the site makes it harder and fewer convenient for me to read an article, I’ll probably go anywhere else. I would assume that I would always be able to read the news totally free on the BBC’s website, which would not be good news for the promotion revenue of the Murdoch online empire.

Copycats

Assuming that I actually wanted to read an article on a paid site so badly that we handed over my credit card details to them, what would prevent me ‘reporting’ on what the article said on my freely offered blog? I would imagine it would be very hard for a newspaper class to prevent thousands of bloggers disseminating the information freely to their people who would gain lots of traffic in the process.

Recipe for Success?

Typically the success or failure of paid news is in the method used to fee and engage with users, assuming that the users value the content remarkably enough to deem it worth paying for. The jury is definitely still out on the entire concept and the chances are that a lot of will try and fail before a profitable system is designed. Until then, we’ll have to wait and see.